Nonprofits join forces to explore community center options for Wareham seniors

By Matthew Bernat | Feb 09, 2018
Photo by: Bill Whelan A new coalition is coming together with the aim of building a new community center inside the Gleason Family YMCA with services for seniors and others.

There are 8,000 seniors in Wareham, roughly one-third of the town’s population, “and we don’t provide enough services as far as I’m concerned,” said Selectman Alan Slavin.

That lack of support has galvanized residents and several nonprofits, spurring them to form a new coalition. Slavin and YMCA officials, recently announced that the group will work towards raising funds for building a community center inside the Gleason Family YMCA.

“The Y is open to conversations and potential partnerships that will bring increased access and programs to seniors in our area,” said Rhonda Veugen, development director for YMCA Southcoast and a Wareham resident. “We feel the Gleason Family YMCA is a perfect location as we already have classes for older adults.”

Currently, the Council on Aging is based inside the lower level of the Multi-Service Center and provides limited programs, overseen by Director Missy Dziczek.

Up until this summer, a state grant funded a full-time salary for Dziczek. The grant expired in June, however, Dziczek has continued to work five hours per week, her position funded by some of the state money the town receives for senior programming.

In 2012 and 2013, the Council on Aging received $82,000 from the town to offer services. In 2014, town voters defeated a ballot question that would have raised an additional $4.5 million via real estate and personal property taxes. Without those funds, several town services were cut, including budgets for the Council on Aging and Wareham Free Library.

Slavin said the new collaboration will be between the Gleason Family YMCA, Council on Aging and the Boys & Girls Club. Slavin said by leveraging a partnership, it’s more likely the group will secure grants from state and federal sources as well as private donors.

Slavin said plans call for establishing a board made up of YMCA employees, Boys & Girls Club leaders, a liaison from the Board of Selectmen and Council on Aging members.

Veugen said the idea, at this point, is to take existing space at the Gleason Family YMCA and expand it for new, community-oriented programs catering to seniors and teenagers.

“We have the basic facilities that would work – the gymnasium, pool – but what we need is a bigger area to do community programming,” said Veugen.

Melissa Dyer, senior program director for the Gleason Family YMCA, agreed.

“With the current resources that the Y offers, it makes sense to bring the public to the facility versus supplying the instructors and materials to the town groups in inadequate spaces as we do now,” said Dyer. “With expansion, the opportunities for a healthier Wareham are attainable.”

Slavin estimated that the new space would cost an estimated $2 to $3 million, and it would be built using a mix of grants and privately raised funds. Because the new center would rely on those funding sources, he said the new center would be immune from municipal budget cuts.

“I won’t do anything personally unless it’s sustainable,” said Slavin.

The new center wouldn’t affect the work of the Council on Aging, which would continue to operate in the Multi-Service Center, or its current programs, including the popular, volunteer-driven Meals on Wheels, said Veugen.

“This is not a replacement for what’s going on,” she said. “This is a collaboration.”

With the announcement, officials said next steps include forming the partnership and then exploring fundraising options. Specific design plans and how the center will be run are still far in the future.

For now, they said the hard work of forming a collaboration begins.

“The only way we can make this work is to get together,” said Slavin.

Comments (9)
Posted by: desertsky | Feb 10, 2018 09:58

It's about time one third of the tax base in town and watching funds go to school programs, programs for drug addiction and every other group that needs something, I'm ready to finally see something being done for a large group of TAX PAYING, VOTING residents. I go to Bourne and use their facilities because this town offers nothing. Maybe some new selectmen after the election will realize not everyone in town wants or can afford to keep paying taxes here that ultimately go to programs that help only a certain selection of people. Time to kick in for something the over 55's can reap a benefit from. Theres more here than kids and druggies.

Posted by: philzao | Feb 10, 2018 14:02

I agree with you .  As a senior citizen, I would like to see this town cater a bit more to it's actual constituency.  Here are some relevant demographics from the 2000 census ( the most recent that I found) :


As of the census[ of 2000, there were 20,335 people, 8,200 households, and 5,338 families residing in the town. (115.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 87.42% White, 2.92% African American, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 5.20% from other races, and 3.43% from two or more races. 1.44% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

46.4% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.9% were non-families. 29.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the town, the population was spread out with

24.5% under the age of 18, - school kids

6.3% from 18 to 24,

28.5% from 25 to 44, - people with school kids –

24.5% from 45 to 64,

16.2% who were 65 years of age or older. –


So, the math says 40.7 %  of the population of Wareham is over the age of 45 ( many grandparents and /fixed income people)


If over 40% of the population is more than 45 years old, why do nearly all the taxes seem to go towards schools, rehabilitation, or questionable land purchases/improvements ?  Maybe I am missing something, but from reading this paper, that is sure how it feels.

(and ) Before people jump on the property value bandwagon, many of us older people intend to stay in our homes and we are not necessarily thrilled about higher property values, since that means that eventually, we senior citizens will be taxed right out of their homes.

With this many older taxpayers, our needs should be one of the top priorities....without having to raise taxes to do it.  This demographic ALREADY is paying over 40% of the taxes raised in this town.

SO stop trying to raise taxes for 40% of the town that sees little benefit from most of it.

With this many people in town old enough to be grandparents, we should be enough of a priority to be more carefully considered without having to raise taxes to do it.

Funding the Council on Aging by raising our taxes  is giving you something with one hand and then taking it away with the other. 



Posted by: desertsky | Feb 10, 2018 15:24

Interesting info Philzao...there are many of us in total agreement. Good post.

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Feb 10, 2018 15:46

Sadly we don't spend money on drug prevention and rehabilitation and we short-change our schools. We have no recreation department

Seniors are an important part of our population and any viable collabotation is worth exploring.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Feb 10, 2018 17:22

I believe you Onset, but that raises a big question.  Then what do we spend our money on?  Here we've eliminated seniors, schools, drug prevention, and recreation.  I'm sure dual water/fire has something to do with it but that's a separate tax.  What else is there?  By the looks of the roads and public places, it's not spent on those.  Where does all the money go?

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Feb 10, 2018 19:54

WBTS my question exactly. Not the library or trash pickup. Not park or playground maintenance. Paid out for out of district education, expensive school superintendent,  lots of studies that go unheeded. Police response to ODs but not prevention. Lots of fancy vehicles and new insignia for Natural Resources. Pay for weekly police detail for a f looded state highway. Looking forward to seeing the warrant.

Posted by: desertsky | Feb 11, 2018 08:18

You got it right WBTS. Where IS it going? Look back at the percentage of taxes going to the school system. I think it was about 35% of our budget?

Those retired pensions and deals where 80% of their medical is being paid are draining the school budget. Theres a reason the "educators" are leaving..I see another one is headed to Plymouth from the middle school. I'm still looking to see where else the money flows and like WBTS I'm stymied...follow the money...

Posted by: desertsky | Feb 11, 2018 08:20

Correction: it's an elementary school "educator" leaving for Plymouth

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Feb 11, 2018 10:32

I'm not an expert in town finance.  But I do know that the books are public record.  We can see where all the money goes if we want .  It's probably confusing as heck to look at.  But it is available.

If you wish to comment, please login.